Pope Francis argued on Monday that the 21st century has seen more Christians under siege for their faith than during the time of the early church.
"There are many martyrs today, in the Church, many persecuted Christians," said the pope during a mass in honor of Christian martyrs who were killed under Roman Emperor Nero. "Think of the Middle East where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed. Even those Christians who are forced away in an 'elegant' way, with 'white gloves:' that too is persecution. There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries."
Pope Francis' words come at a time when Iraq's small population of Christians, which trace their roots back to the earliest days of Christianity, have had to flee their homes as militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have taken over the city of Mosul. On Sunday, Nigerian Christians were once again targeted by the Boko Haram, which killed scores of worshippers and burned down four churches in a major attack in Kwada and Kautikari villages. more >>
Pope Francis, who is often branded as a Marxist due to his criticism of abuse of capitalism, said Sunday that communism has stolen ideas from Christianity, at whose center is the Gospel for the poor.
"I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the centre of the Gospel," the 77-year-old pontiff told Il Messaggero in an interview to mark the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul, according to Reuters.
"Communists say that all this is communism. Sure, twenty centuries later. So when they speak, one can say to them: 'but then you are Christian,'" he said, laughing, when asked about a blog post in the Economist magazine that said he sounded like a Leninist when he criticized capitalism and called for radical economic reform. more >>
British musician Sir Elton John has said in an interview that he believes Jesus Christ would approve of gay marriages, and shared his admiration for the work Pope Francis has done so far, calling him "wonderful."
John's comments come days after the Vatican released a major new document speaking out against unjust discrimination against gay people but affirming traditional teachings on marriage, a viewpoint that Francis has supported.
"These are old and stupid things. If Jesus Christ was alive today, I cannot see him, as the Christian person that he was and the great person that he was, saying this could not happen," John told Sky News on Sunday, speaking out against Church of England rules banning gay clergy from getting married. more >>
A major document by the Vatican has said that unjust discrimination against gay people needs to be avoided and that children of same-sex unions must be cared for as any other, but it still maintains opposition to same-sex couples adopting children and has affirmed traditional teachings on marriage.
The Instrumentum Laboris is a result of Pope Francis' call in October 2013 for Roman Catholic bishops around the world to convene and discuss matters of family and the Christian faith.
"On unions of persons of the same sex, the responses of the bishops' conferences refer to Church teaching. 'There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. [...] Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies 'must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided,'" the lengthy document reads. more >>
A "Jesus on the cross" scarecrow used for a musicals-themed scarecrow festival in Cambridgeshire in the U.K. has been removed after online users argued it was offensive.
Radka Shaw said that she and her children, a Christian family, made the figure, which was set up on a lamppost next to a cemetery, to represent the "Jesus Christ Superstar" musical.
Catholic League President Bill Donohue has claimed in a 16-page report that controversial news headlines of a "mass grave" uncovered in Tuam, Ireland of 800 infants from unmarried mothers that died at "mother and baby" homes run by the Roman Catholic Church are a "hoax" and causing "mass hysteria."
"To say that the headline
s of stories about the 'mass graves' are incendiary would be a colossal understatement," the report states, and points out titles such as "Ireland's Holocaust: Special Report on the Tuam Killing Field" (Sundayworld. com, 6/9/14); "Catholic Church Tossed 800 Irish Orphans into Septic Tank Grave" (washingtontimes.com, 6/3/14); "An Irish Catholic Orphanage Hid the Bodies of 800 Children " (salon.com, 6/4/14) and others. more >>